All systems go for ‘Brand Raila’ team-Consultations with Nigerians
Cautious after three jinxed attempts, the Cord principal has also extended his consultations on politics beyond Kenya as he plans another stab for the seat he has done everything to win but failed.
Three weeks ago, Mr Odinga held consultations with a high-powered team from Nigeria reported to have worked on the winning strategy for President-elect Muhamadu Buhari.
Like Mr Odinga, Mr Buhari, 72, had also unsuccessfully attempted three times to win the presidency.
The Sunday Nation established that Mr Odinga had a chat with the Nigerians at his Nairobi’s Upper Hill office to compare notes on a number of political scenarios.
Mr Odinga is also said to be directly engaging international political experts from the United States, Britain and Germany as he lays the groundwork for what is expected to be a do-or-die battle for the presidency against President Uhuru Kenyatta.
On Saturday, ODM chairman John Mbadi said Mr Odinga’s presentation as a candidate will be an earth-shaking event when the plan is unveiled.
“We have identified our areas of weaknesses in voter registration, voter mobilisation and voter protection. I can assure our supporters that we are working on a campaign plan that will not look like the 2007 and the 2013 ones,” Mr Mbadi stated.
Mr Mbadi, a top level member of Mr Odinga’s think tank, said the party is focussing on voter registration in Cord strongholds to ensure high numbers.
ODM is also planning a major restructuring of party organs at the grassroots with elections expected early next year.
“We are appealing to our senators, MPs, and members of the county assembly to be at the forefront of leading our supporters in registering as voters,” said Mr Mbadi.
He added that many things undermined efforts to register many people, “including those created by the government and the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission”.
The Sunday Nation has learnt that while Mr Odinga is working within ODM structures to prepare for the 2017 elections, Cord has also dispatched Machakos Senator Johnstone Muthama and Siaya Senator James Orengo to come up with strategies for a greater coalition.
The two senators are the co-chairmen of the coalition’s management committee, having been picked to head it, replacing Rongo MP Dalmas Otieno and Kitui Senator David Musila.
Mr Musila voluntarily stepped aside for Mr Muthama while Mr Otieno was edged out over suspicions that his loyalty had waned.
Nyatike MP Omondi Anyanga, an influential member of the ODM fraternity, said the push for Mr Odinga’s fourth presidential bid will be buttressed by a launch that will win many hearts.
“We know he is a good brand, and we are working to make sure promotional activities surrounding the launch of Brand Raila end up as a major attraction to the voters,” said Mr Anyanga.
Mr Odinga has in recent weeks launched a website and an SMS platform to engage with his supporters in low-key events that he was keen to point out were not related to the 2017 elections.
Already, Mr Anyanga and his Rarieda counterpart Nicholas Gumbo have launched high-scale vote listing activities in their constituencies. The two have mobilised personal resources to get their constituents to register, with Mr Gumbo’s constituency said to be doing extremely well.
Though Mr Odinga’s allies denied he had formed a campaign line-up to drum up support and resources, we established that he is secretly working with a team of close confidants and a few technocrats on his plan.
Kakamega Governor Wyclife Oparanya and his Mombasa counterpart Hassan Joho are frequent participants in Mr Odinga’s secret campaign plans. A party retreat in Maanzoni last month resolved to have the two deputy party leaders empowered and their offices enhanced as part of the campaign.
Mr Odinga is also working with Suna East MP Junet Mohammed and Mombasa Senator Omar Hassan, who is also the Wiper Democratic Movement Secretary General. Political scientist Adams Oloo and a group of influential civil society activists are said to be among the top contacts Mr Odinga is consulting.
A section of Mr Odinga’s team has been pushing him to drop his former campaign manager, Mr Eliud Owallo, who was part of the team blamed for the poor performance in 2013. Mr Owallo, who no longer works for the former Prime Minister but remains close to him, has declared his intention to be the next Kibra MP.
On Saturday, Mr Mohammed said: “We are doing our best to ensure we deliver Raila Amolo Odinga. It is also important to be cautious of the reasons we didn’t make it last time.”
He said the party would call for publication of a list of uncollected identity cards and supply of additional voter registration equipment to support the Opposition’s campaign for voter registration.
“It is the government’s responsibility to register people as nationals and it is the IEBC’s responsibility to make voter registration easy,” the Suna East MP said.
But he warned IEBC has not improved its voter listing strategy and that factors that led to skewed registration in 2013 are being applied again.